As humans, it’s impossible not to compare things. We compare which fruits taste better in supermarkets. We compare prices when we’re shopping. We compare which online news sources we can rely on. We even compare our own progress with the progress of others which is totally natural – to an extent, anyway.
By the same token, parents often feel compelled to compare their children to other people’s children. It could be that their child possesses something that the parents feel is subpar or unacceptable, which is in relation to their interests, their grades at school/university, their characteristics, or even the way they dress. There are different reasons depending on the family’s expectations so I’ll try to keep this blog post as simple as I can.
I think there are harmless comparisons because again, it’s impossible not to compare. But some are way out of line. People need to understand the difference between comparing and judging. Many times when this topic of “comparison” comes up in conversation, someone always says the usual: “Maybe your parents just want the best for you”. I agree – but they can do that without talking about someone else’s child. You can motivate your child, advise them and create a relationship that is filled with trust and honesty so that your child can feel comfortable enough to speak to you about anything.
First of all, you only see what people want to show you. We all want to show the best versions of ourselves – either to our own parents, family members, at work and even to our neighbours. Not everyone knows exactly what’s going on in your life or behind closed doors. So this whole comparison thing can be quite pointless. While your parents are comparing you to other children and making you feel rather insignificant for a moment, just think about how other parents might be comparing their child to you. Each of us has something that someone else wants and you might not even realise it.
As simple as that sounds, it is easy to forget it – especially with the use of social media. As much as we want to show the best version of ourselves in reality, we also do it online with a filter on top. On Instagram, you can literally orchestrate your life and make it look as desirable as possible. Being online is a way of creating a persona – whether it reflects who you really are or not.
It’s never nice to be compared to others. Many times, I’ve had random Somali aunties brag about their daughters wearing long dresses and then I watch their eyes wander down at my jeans.
It’s one of those moments when you think: “What do people say behind closed doors when they are comparing their child to me?” There have been moments when someone’s parent talks about me in a very positive way in front of their child and I’m standing there feeling extremely awkward. In my head, I’m probably thinking: “My life isn’t as perfect as you think, ma’am. In fact, the car that I’m driving got towed the other day because I was so irresponsible about parking.” True story, folks.
It used to affect me a lot when people said things but now it doesn’t really matter to me, because what we see in other people could literally just be the tip of an iceberg. When times get rough, you’ve got to be your own support system. Only you can look after and understand yourself. So take your time with your progress.
If you’ve failed a few modules at university that you’ve really worked hard for and you feel that your family members are giving you a hard time about it, don’t bother explaining yourself, do what you need to do to motivate yourself. If you want to switch up the uni course altogether, do it and go at your own pace because at the end of the day, it’s your life and it belongs to you only. If your family is looking at you to get married next because all your peers are on their second child… who cares? Stay single as long as you need to. If you’re judged because of the way you dress but you know that you don’t have a bad bone in your body, those words shouldn’t even matter to you.
I’ve had to deal with pointless comparisons said by people I barely even care about and it has made me think about myself as a mother. If I ever have kids, I’ll make sure I encourage and nurture each child’s individual characteristics and talents so they can be the best at what they do.